JOHANNESBURG: A nine-year-old Indian-origin girl has died after being shot during an apparent botched car hijacking in South Africa, sparking protests by the community members in Durban.
Sadia Sukhraj, a grade four student from the Indian township of Chatsworth, was leaving her grandparents' house in Shallcross along with her father Shailendra when three armed men accosted their car on Monday, Times Live reported.
They allegedly threw the girl's father out of the car before driving off with the child. The hijacked vehicle was pursued by the child's father during which he and the hijackers shot at each other. The men then hit a truck and lost control of the vehicle.
The girl was found shot and critically injured while one of the hijackers was arrested by an off-duty police officer‚ another one died near the vehicle.
The girl was rushed to a hospital where succumbed to her injuries. The third hijacker remains at large.
"The hijacked vehicle was pursued by the child's father‚ and then there was a shooting‚ so we don't know exactly how the child got shot and by whom‚" Chatsworth community policing forum chairperson Jakes Singh said.
Following the incident, hundreds of angry community members gathered outside the Chatsworth Police Station demanding urgent action from authorities. Police had to use stun grenades and tear gas to disperse them.
Residents said that there had been a spike in hijackings and robberies in the area, despite community patrols at night.
"All we want is for the police to do their job effectively. The little girl lost her life and we feel that enough is enough. We want to be heard. We want our concerns addressed and we want answers as to what is going to be done to curb the escalating crime rate," said one Ashley Pillay.
Tributes for the little girl and outrage over her death gained momentum on social media as news of her shooting went viral.
"The community is shocked and saddened by this incident... General housebreakings have been continuing but hijackings seemed to be under control. We are surprised by what happened‚" said Shallcross community police forum chairman Mahendra Lillkan.